Shortly after graduating high school I started working for my family’s business, which meant my father was my boss. I’ve always jokingly said he was the worst boss I have ever had, but that’s only partially true. He pushed me to see my own potential. He challenged me, corrected me, inspired me but most importantly, he believed in me.

After working at the business for several months, he drove me to a warehouse distributor, pulled out a check, signed it and said, “Your turn to make a deal.” It was only a few weeks earlier, that he and I were talking about expanding his business and how much I wanted to have my own business someday. When we arrived at the distributor, he reminded me of that day and that if I really wanted to follow my dreams of being a business owner, today was the day. He said I had all the skills necessary to make this go right. After trying to convince me to get out of the car for 10 minutes, I finally did. 45 minutes later, I walked out with a signed contract and a new business.

My father taught me many things I didn’t know about myself that day. He had been coaching me for that very moment over the last several months. I didn’t know I was ready until I walked through those doors. As I’ve pondered his influence and others who have taught me, guided me and encouraged me throughout my professional career, I’ve realized the power that lies within mentorship. Without his coaching, I would have failed miserably. If my current and previous managers hadn’t properly mentored me, I am sure I would not be in the position I am in today. The truth is, one simply cannot succeed alone. This is why it’s important to look for mentors no matter our capacity, the industry we work in or the role we play. Each one of us can benefit from good mentorship and if that story didn’t convince you, here are my top 4 reasons why finding a mentor is imperative.  

Mentors know what it takes to succeed

Mentors are experienced and knowledgeable. Most of them have already been through all the in’s and out’s of creating a business or working in a particular field. They have gone through the trial and error period and can help us prevent making the same mistakes. I relied a lot on my father’s knowledge while I managed my first business. He taught me the 4 P’s of marketing: price, product, place and promotion. It wasn’t until a few years into college that I learned more about these in depth. He taught me all the do’s and don’ts and saved me from many headaches in the future. In the banking industry, I’ve relied heavily on the knowledge and experience of several managers that have worked in the industry longer than I have. They directed me to where I needed to go to reach the position I wanted to. Some mentors volunteered me for projects they knew I wouldn’t have requested to be on, knowing it was out of my comfort zone. They knew it was what I needed to do to get my name out there and they knew that I was capable of doing well. We often don’t see our potential until someone points it out.

Mentors help us improve in ways we don’t often see
We all know the saying, “The truth hurts.” Last month’s Business Women’s Forum article “Give Feeback That Builds Trust on Your Team” by Sherry Weaver mentioned the need for immediate and constructive criticism. If you’ve picked the right mentor, they will not hold back on giving you constructive criticism. If they truly care about your success they will speak up. Good mentors will help you identify your weaknesses and can help you overcome them. It is also our responsibility as mentees to ask for and be willing to receive that feedback. In the article Mentors are the key to Business Success” by David Semerad, he says, “Get in the habit of acknowledging that you have weaknesses. If you are thinking this sounds counter-productive, it’s not. Smugness has a tendency to lead to failure.” Over the course of my career I’ve always sought mentors who I felt would challenge me. A quote I’ve heard over the years, and think about all the time is, “When you’re green you’re growing, when you’re ripe you rot.” It is okay not to know everything and it’s okay to acknowledge that you have weaknesses. Remember there is always room for growth. We only grow when we are uncomfortable so, let’s get uncomfortable!

Mentors can help you network

When I opened my business I had very limited experience in the auto industry. However, my father had been working in the industry for as long as I could remember and he connected me with all the right people. As I pursued my degree in finance, I decided to take a leap of faith and work for a local credit union and left my business in someone else’s hands.  I wanted to learn everything I could about the banking industry. When I first started, I told the manager that I wanted to be in her seat one day and that I hoped she’d help me get there. She and several other mentors helped me get to where I am today. They always knew who to talk to and how to get me more involved. When I became a manager, business development was a major part of my role. I am naturally an introvert and this has always been difficult for me. I knew that this was something I had to work on and I also knew doing this would take me out of my comfort zone. I decided to reach out to one of the most talented business development representatives in our organization. There was no doubt in my mind that she would take me out of my comfort zone and that she would challenge me in ways I had never been challenged before. This is exactly why I asked her to mentor me. Was this a scary thought? Absolutely, but this was exactly what I needed! I have learned tremendously from this individual and still have a lot to learn. She was and continues to be one of the best mentors I have had.

Mentors inspire and encourage us

It’s important to find a mentor that inspires and encourages us to be better. In an article by Kathy Caprino, “How Happiness Directly Impacts Your Success,” Caprino states that, “When we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive at work.” We all want to be successful in whatever role we are in. There are times where we may come up short. Good mentors know that feeding negative thoughts do not lead to anything productive. Although we must face reality, it does not mean we have to dwell on our failures either. Surrounding yourself with realistic and positive influences will help you keep going. Providing encouraging and positive words help us learn from our mistakes, think of new ways to improve and move forward. A good mentor knows this and will provide all the encouragement necessary for us to succeed.

In the article “4 Things my Grandmother Taught me,” Lori Williams said “You’re never too young or old to mentor and be a mentee. A mentor coaches by giving guidance, sharing ideas and providing feedback. They are a resourceful person to enhance your opportunities and a source of encouragement.” She could have not said it any better. Don’t be afraid to ask for guidance. Most of the time people are willing to mentor those who want to learn. As a mentee, you must to give 100% to your mentor if you want to see results. I have been privileged to have good mentors throughout my life. Each one has helped me grow and feel success. Without their help, it would have taken me years to get to where I am today.

Have you ever thought about who you want to influence and how to do it better? Maybe it is your clients, your boss, your team, even your teenagers? Learn the formula for intentionally creating influence by design – the Power of Mentoring at the upcoming Business Women’s Forum Luncheon on October 30, 2018. From properly identifying your audience, to strategizing the message, to learning how to “teach them how to think” and leaving them with a specific challenge, you will be amazed at how simple yet effective this step by step process is.

Cristine Salazar was born in California and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Finance and a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Utah. Besides owning 2 businesses of her own, she also has 11 years of experience in the financial industry. Cristine is currently a Branch Manager for America First Credit Union at their City Creek location. She is highly involved in the community and volunteers for her church. She continually strives to leave a positive influence on those around her whether it is in her professional or personal surroundings. She enjoys traveling and spending time with her loved ones.